Margaret Cassidy Manship, artist, archivist, teacher, and widow of the painter and sculptor John Paul Manship, was aware and peacefully released her life on February 13th at Seacoast Nursing and Rehab Center in Gloucester where she had received loving care as a resident in recent years. Manship had maintained residences in Lanesville and at Westbeth Artists Housing in Greenwich Village, New York.
The daughter of the late Mary Anderson and Frank Blessing Cassidy of Uxbridge, MA, Margaret was born on Christmas Day. Manship began her formative training as a young child in her family home, where her artist mother offered instruction. Three of Mrs. Cassidy’s children would become artists: Barbara Cocker was a highly collected marine painter and her sister Clare, a watercolorist, had a successful career as a folk singer.
Margaret graduated from St. Mary’s Academy in Milford and went on to study nutrition and home economics at Framingham State Teacher’s College, where she received a BS. She spent a summer at the University of Grenoble in France. While teaching at the Clark School for the Deaf in Northampton. Margaret continued her interest in art making, studying with Randolph Johnston at Smith College. She also studied with Henry Rox at Mount Holyoke and received a master’s degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Manship began her remarkable journey in the field of sculpture when she won an international sculpture contest. This honor offered a three-year fellowship to the Villa Schifanoia in Florence, Italy, and culminated in her becoming the first master’s graduate at the Rosary College Graduate School. During this time Margaret also began a close association with the Italian master sculptor Antonio Berti, with whom she studied and assisted for several years.
Manship’s collaboration with Berti produced two significant works – the St. Louise de Marillac marble group that filled the last available niche in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and the Alcide de Gasperi Monument in Trento, Italy. While assisting on the former project, Margaret had the extraordinary privilege of living at the Vatican. She was the first woman documented as having played a critical role in realizing work in this sacred space, earning the nickname “the American Squirrel” in the foreign press for constantly climbing up and down eight ladders to get to the niche where the 21-ton statue would eventually rest, some sixty feet above the ground. One of the medallions of the saint’s rosary represents a portrait of Berti, a tribute from student to teacher. Margaret modeled her own youthful portrait as one of the children depicted on the base of the de Gasperi Monument. Manship was conversant in several sculptural mediums including wood, having studied woodcarving in Salzburg, Austria with Herr Lindner.
Manship moved briefly to the US to establish a studio in Uxbridge while teaching at Bridgewater State, but returned to Rome to assist Antonio Berti. During this time, Margaret met and fell in love with John Manship to whom she was devoted for 37 years until his death in 2000.
They exhibited widely and maintained studios and galleries in Lanesville and Rockport, New York City, Vermont and abroad. Among her notable portraits are likenesses of Presidents Reagan and Carter and poet Robert Frost, as well as His Holiness Pope Pius XII, and an heroic statue of John Cardinal Newman at the University of Mass, Amherst Newman Center. She also was responsible for creating a large Pietà, representing a grieving Mary over the body of her son Jesus, at the entrance to the Maryknoll Fathers cemetery in New York, and a Japanese Madonna and St. Joseph at the Holy Spirit Church in Kita-Ku, Kyoto, Japan.
John and Margaret were members of the Rockport Art Association, The North Shore Arts Association, the Pen and Brush Club, the Burr Artists and the Salmagundi Club; Margaret was also an active member of the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club and is distinguished by the honor of having been elected to the International Burckhardt Academy. Following John’s death, Margaret restored and maintained the Lanesville, gallery created by his father, sculptor Paul Manship, whose significant legacy includes the Prometheus Fountain at Rockefeller Center, and the Group of Bears at the Metropolitan Museum and New York’s Central Park. Mrs. Manship continued her work after retiring to Seacoast; her latest, now unfinished portrait represents His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
Margaret also taught art in several schools in Rhode Island and Massachusetts; she instructed private students, and developed new techniques for working with stained glass. Mrs. Manship was an avid archivist, as well, amassing an impressive collection of archival material on American art. In so many ways, Margaret lived a charmed life, creating what she cared for with an indomitable will that made others readily succumb to her current mission – be it teaching local children to swim or raising money for Italian orphans after World War II. She will be greatly missed by her loving family and friends.
Mrs. Manship is survived by her sisters; Mary Anderson Cassidy of Whitinsville, MA and Clare Cassidy Condon and her brother-in-law, Chris Condon of John’s Island, SC; two sisters-in-law, Elizabeth Manship Solomon of CA and Mary Lou Cassidy of Whitensville; nieces and nephews; Colleen Cassidy of Uxbridge, MA, Sean Cassidy of Worcester, MA, Thomas Cassidy of CT, Mark Cassidy of FL, Sister Marylou Cassidy, CSJ of Stoneham, MA, Dr. E. Robert Cassidy, Jr. and family of CA and OR, Laurie Cassidy, PhD of PA, David and Neil Cocker of Nantucket, MA, Kathleen Condon and her husband Rick Luftglass of NY, Ann Gallagher and her husband Ron May of CA, Erik Natti and his wife, Teresa and family of Gloucester, MA, Anne Murtha O'Connell of CT, Thomas and Peter Solomon of CA and Maria Cassidy of Uxbridge, MA; cousins; Jacques Cassidy and family of OR, NY, and VA, Mark André Cassidy and family of NY, NJ, MA, and WI, Mary Rosella Fahy and family of NJ and FL, Jay Cassidy and family, Wendy Cassidy Dorfman, and Andrew Cassidy of CA and Barbara Sceurman and Chris McGrath and family of PA.
Manship was also predeceased by her siblings Francis B. Cassidy, Jr., Edward R. Cassidy, Barbara Cassidy Cocker and Father Joseph G. Cassidy, OP; and by her nephew James M. Condon and her niece Isabel Natti.
Mass Intentions will be held for her soul at St. Joachim Church in Rockport, MA on February 26 at 8:30 AM and at St. Mary’s Church in Uxbridge, MA on February 27 at 7:00 AM. A public memorial service and celebration of her life are planned for the summer when Margaret will be interred with John in the Manship family plot at Seaside Cemetery, Lanesville. Donations in her memory may be given to the art organizations with which she was closely connected: the North Shore Arts Association, 11 Pirates Lane, Gloucester, MA 01930, the Rockport Art Association, 12 Main Street, Rockport, MA 01966 and the Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Art Club, 802 Broadway, New York, NY 10003.